What if the company closes? Workers can become entrepreneurs themselves and the company can indeed be reborn. The first of 17 events (from May until October 2015) of the Italian Confederation of Cooperatives, Confcooperative network is organizing at the Expo Milano put workers’ buyouts at the center of the debate. On May 26, the conference entitled “Feeding our local areas: quality services for quality of life”, organized by Federlavoro e Servizi Confcooperative, representing worker cooperatives, brought together national and European experiences. CECOP network, including the Secretary General, Bruno Roelants, representatives from the Bulgarian worker cooperatives movement and the Mondragon Corporation in Spain shared the international view with the audience.
The debate highlighted the virtues of the worker cooperative model as an economic driver, as a creator of employment opportunities, and as a resource for combating the crisis that Italy (and Europe) is undergoing. The half-day session also addressed a number of issues including a comparison between various models of workers cooperatives Europe-wide, the quality of services in metropolitan areas, Smart Cities, and the relationship between cooperatives and the public sector in public tenders.
Referring to the Pope’s recent mention of “fake cooperatives” at Confcooperative’s General Assembly, Roelants spoke about the damage done due to the proliferation of fake worker cooperatives in South America that led CICOPA to create an international code of conduct named the World Declaration on Worker Cooperatives.